Hartford Life and Annuity Life Insurance Co. filed a lawsuit alleging 62-year-old Jose Lantigua was alive and well and they shouldn’t be making payments.
Lantigua allegedly faked an illness in 2013 while vacationing in Venezuela, leaving his furniture store business millions of dollars in debt.
Lantigua faces insurance fraud charges in Florida involving policies worth $9 million from seven companies, a Jacksonville prosecutor told The Florida Times-Union.
When they thought they were being conned, the life insurers launched an investigation arguing the businessman was not dead after two lenders filed claims.
Hartford Life and Annuity Life Insurance Co. also alleged a worker was bribed to falsify documents stating the businessman's body was cremated. They also claim Lantigua fraudulently assigned benefits claims to a local creditor before he disappeared.
Prosecutors issued a warrant for Lantigua’s arrest over a year ago but it had to be dropped after problems emerged with some of the underlying information in the case, according to Assistant State Attorney Joe Licandro.
But he said a new warrant charging Lantigua with insurance fraud and schemes to defraud was issued within the past week.
Lantigua was arrested after officials stopped his car while he was driving with his wife in North Carolina.
To add another layer to this extraordinary tale, Lantigua's son accused the insurance company of falsifying its investigation into his father's death, accusing the company of lying about the Venezuelan government revoking his father's death certificate, said the Jacksonville Business Journal.
The newspaper reported that the insurance company admitted a Venezuelan lawyer did alter documents to make it seem like the Venezuelan government nullified the death certificate. A judge ruled the papers were faked, but could not determine who faked them.
An investigation launched by a group of insurance companies that thought they were being swindled led to the arrest of a man reported dead two years ago.